The rapid rise of a national motorsport powerhouse targeting Le Mans
In just a few years Ginetta Junior team R Racing has grown from a single car to taking multiple titles and plans to climb further up the ranks. Here's how the still-youthful team progressed from a Mallorcan karting school to become the Ginetta outfit to beat
Launching a new team can be a daunting process. After all, it can take years for a fledgling operation to grow and for success to be achieved. But that was not the case for frontrunning Ginetta Junior squad R Racing. The Norfolk team went from a tiny single-car outfit to a slick five-car operation in less than a year. Two drivers’ titles, a pair of teams’ championships, two Winter Series crowns, and a rookie championship win later and R Racing has now rapidly established itself as a successful Ginetta Junior frontrunner.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, team founders Jamie Ross and Nathan Read describe their squad’s journey so far as a “whirlwind”. But the pair had tackled a lot in their careers even before R Racing was formed.
Having initially carried out his work experience at the JHR Developments squad, Ross became part of the team’s Ginetta Junior operation before moving across to single-seaters when it entered British Formula 4. He was number one mechanic for Billy Monger’s car on that fateful day at Donington Park in 2017 when the teenager suffered his devastating crash. A return to Ginettas followed and Ross then joined Tom Gamble in making the move to Elite Motorsport for the final few events and helped guide him to the title. It was at Elite that Ross met Read, a successful karter who was unable to progress up the motorsport ladder as a driver and was now working on the sister car of future Porsche star Harry King.
“Over the summer, we decided to move to Mallorca and run a karting school together,” says Ross, who was making regular trips back to the UK to help Adam Smalley to Ginetta success with Elite. “But we came back here in the winter of 2018 and started working with Josh Rattican and his dad just helping with test days. We started helping someone else and they said you should probably start your own team.”
It was not something the pair had seriously considered beforehand, with Read intending to head back to Spain for more karting adventures. But that quickly changed: “We thought we better grow up and decided to start a race team!” says Ross.
It was a very humble beginning with the pair initially just running Rattican in a partnership with Porsche squad In2Racing. However, things progressed very quickly from there with 2019 title contender Zak O’Sullivan opting to join R Racing mid-year.
“He joined at Snetterton and we won at the first ever weekend we had with Zak and that put us on the map as a team,” continues Ross, the maiden triumph coming at the team’s ‘home’ circuit in front of friends and family adding to the joy. “To go from engineers and mechanics to run a team, it was nice to do that [win] with Zak. It took off from there with people contacting us and it’s been a whirlwind.”
O'Sullivan's arrival in the team turned R Racing into Ginetta Junior winners at Snetterton in 2019
Photo by: JEP
Although O’Sullivan ultimately missed out on the title, he outscored champion James Hedley across the five events after he moved to the R Racing fold and still took rookie honours. Aston Millar also joined later in the year and suddenly for 2020 the team had a five-car line-up.
“Zak was the key to unlocking it,” says Ross. “We got a call from [Ginetta chairman] Lawrence Tomlinson asking if we could run Freddie [Tomlinson’s son], which was flattering.”
Also joining were fellow sophomores Bailey Voisin and Joel Pearson, while Millar completed the line-up alongside Rattican. The quintet of cars turned up at the March media day resplendent in their grey and turquoise liveries – which Ross and Read said it took some convincing for the drivers, their parents and backers to adopt – each with different coloured flicks on the front. There was an encouraging performance in the media day testing and a strong season seemed in store. Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
"We’re both under 30 and it’s not just the racing side to learn but how to run a business. There’s a lot to learn like how to invoice, not just the logistics. It’s been quite a crash course" Nathan Read
“We had just bought a truck and that wasn’t an easy time for a new business,” explains Ross. “I think everyone struggled, the whole world was halted, but it felt like it halted our momentum. We turned up to media day a week before lockdown and we were 1-2-3-4 [in the times] and looking forward to the season, so it was a hard pill to swallow.”
Fortunately for Ross and Read, they were able to pick up where they left off when the delayed 2020 season finally began in August. Voisin was involved in a hard-fought title battle but just missed out on glory, before R Racing then guided Millar and Josh Rowledge to successive Ginetta Junior championships. The team had not only weathered the COVID-19 storm, but had grown stronger – not that Ross ever anticipated such rapid expansion.
“We didn’t expect it to grow as quickly as it did – but we relished it,” says Ross. “Just structuring a team around that number of cars was hard, it was like we were thrown in at the deep end and finding staff and transport was probably the hardest bit.”
Read adds: “Me and Jamie don’t come from money and I think that makes it hard when you have teams with a bottomless pit. It’s not just the pace of the cars but the image and branding and how we come across as a race team that’s important.”
Reaching that point has not been easy, the pair having faced plenty of practical challenges along the way.
Ross (left) and Read guided Millar and Rowledge to successive Ginetta Junior titles in 2021 and 2022
Photo by: JEP
“It’s been a rollercoaster ride,” admits Read. “We’re both under 30 and it’s not just the racing side to learn but how to run a business. There’s a lot to learn like how to invoice, not just the logistics. It’s been quite a crash course. In racing, we always believed in ourselves but, when it comes to running a business, we didn’t know if we could do it.”
The success the pair have enjoyed over the past few years emphatically proves that they could. And they have created an atmosphere within the team that drivers enjoy being a part of.
“They’re a great bunch of lads – they’re incredibly passionate about what they’re doing and they put their heart into it,” says Josh Miller, who first raced for the team in 2021. “We have a laugh along the way but, deep down, they’re very serious. When it comes to the car, they spend hours after many people have gone home working on it, trying to find things to optimise the car. Just looking at Ginetta Junior, in the past few years, they’ve been pretty much unstoppable – they know how to put a team together.”
After enjoying so much success in Ginetta Junior, thoughts soon turned to the next challenge. Given the amount of time they invest in developing the teenagers inside and outside of the car, R Racing wanted to be able to retain those drivers and offer them the next step, too.
“It helps that me and Jamie are that little bit younger so we can connect with them and understand,” says Read. “We take them under our wing and we get to really know those customers.”
During 2021, Read and Ross therefore looked at different directions the team could progress in. A return to Ross’s “soft spot” for single-seaters was considered, before agreeing the GT route was the better bet.
“There’s a lot of people out there doing single-seaters,” says Read. “But GTs is also an achievable goal for young drivers to make a career. If you can do well in GT4 and GT3, all of a sudden, you’re doing the 24 Hours of Le Mans.”
Therefore the team opted to invest in an Aston Martin Vantage GT4 and decided to enter British GT for 2022. Miller made the step from junior to senior racing with the squad and was paired with UAE F4 graduate Jamie Day – the 16-year-olds becoming the youngest driver line-up in the category’s history. Given the team was still in its relative infancy, tackling endurance racing for the first time and up against some very well-established GT operations, expectations were fairly modest.
R Racing stepped up into British GT last year with an Aston Martin Vantage GT4, and came close to securing the title with Day and Miller
Photo by: Daniel James Smith
But, in typical R Racing manner, the team was right on the pace from the start and in contention for the GT4 title. It made history with Miller and Day becoming the series’ youngest victorious pair at Snetterton and they also triumphed at Spa – a venue neither driver had raced at previously – before missing out by 12.5 points in the final reckoning.
“We definitely exceeded expectations,” says Miller. “You want to go into it and do your best and have race wins and podiums but we didn’t think we would be fighting for the title. It’s disappointing to not come away with the win but you’ve got to look in perspective and at what we’ve achieved and how we’ve progressed.”
Miller found making the jump to GTs in the familiar surroundings of R Racing to be extremely beneficial and says it helped with the learning process.
“It’s made that step easier and given me confidence stepping into a new series,” he says. “I would love to stay with them for a very long time. I get on with them really well and it’s great to grow with the team – they started as a small team and I started as a new driver and we’ve grown together.”
"People want to go and do Le Mans and I think that’s going to become a lot more accessible with the GT3 rules. That would be the goal" Jamie Ross
Speaking of the future, it is clear the team’s founders have ambitions to climb further up the ladder.
“People want to go and do Le Mans and I think that’s going to become a lot more accessible with the GT3 rules,” says Ross. “That would be the goal. There would be nothing more satisfying for us to put a kid in a car for the first time at 13 years old and then win Le Mans a few years later.”
Given the meteoric rise of R Racing over the past few years, those lofty aspirations could certainly be reached. In the meantime, expect to see the grey cars at the front of more Ginetta Junior fields. Winter Series champion Freddie Slater alongside second-year racers Luke Watts and Luca Hopkinson look like they will be tough to beat and could just continue the team’s impressive record of claiming a title in every season of its existence so far.
R Racing's fleet of grey Ginettas has become a regular sight at the front of Junior contests in recent years
Photo by: JEP
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